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China auto sales fall in January for eighth month

2019-02-19 08:50
Cars in parking lot

Image: iStock

China's auto sales fell for an eighth month in January, extending a painful decline for the biggest global market as demand cooled amid a slowing economy and tariffs standoff with the US.

Purchases of sedans, SUVs and minivans fell 15% from a year earlier to just over 2 million vehicles, according to an industry group, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Setback for manufacturers

Cooling growth and trade tensions with Washington are prompting jittery buyers to put off purchases.

READ: SA car sales: Rough start for local vehicle industry in 2019

The slump is a setback for global automakers that are looking to China to drive revenue and are spending heavily to meet Chinese government targets to develop electric vehicles.

2018 passenger vehicle sales suffered their first decline in nearly three decades. Purchases fell 4.1% from the previous year to 23.7 million.

The downturn has prompted suggestions Beijing will cut sales taxes or offer other incentives.

Percentage drops

January's total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, declined 15.8% to 2.4 million, according to CAAM.

Sales by Chinese brands fell 22% to 832 000. Their market share contracted by 2.4 percentage points to 41.2%.

Purchases of electric and hybrid vehicles, which Beijing is promoting with subsidies, rose 138% over a year earlier to 96 000 units.

Sales of SUVs, usually a bright spot for the industry, contracted 19% to 878 900.

Volkswagen said sales fell 2.9% to 387 300.

BMW said sales of BMW and Mini brand vehicles rose 15.5% to 63 135.

Nissan Motor Co. said sales were off 0.8% at 133 934.

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